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The Complete Guide To Buying Used & Refurbished Cell Phones

You need a new cell phone that is reliable and easy to use, but you are on a fixed income, which limits your options. Consider buying refurbished cell phones. This article will tell you how to get a high-quality phone that is reliable and cheap.

What Is an Unlocked Cell Phone?

An unlocked cell phone is usually one that someone has used or refurbished. There is no paperwork or cell phone provider, which means you can choose who you want without a contract.
A trained professional has checked the phone to make sure everything works and has deleted all files. (This, of course, may not be the case if you are buying directly from the phone’s previous owner or on certain marketplaces that connect buyers and phone owners .)
Refurbished phones may show wear and tear, such as scratches or dents, but a phone case can cover them. Some refurbished phones come with a new case and cables.

How Does a Refurbished & Used Cell Phone Work?

You would have to buy a SIM card from the GSM network to use your phone. GSM means “Global System for Mobile Communications,” which supports certain wireless providers. AT&T and T-Mobile are in the GSM network.
A SIM card is that tiny card in your phone that stores all your information. You can remove the SIM card and put it in a different device.
The SIM card connects your service with one of those carriers listed above.
As long as you keep the SIM card in the phone, the phone stays connected to the same network. If you change networks, you will need to get a new SIM card.

Why You Should Consider a Used or Refurbished Phone

Research reveals over 60% of consumers denied having any problems with refurbished phones.

  • You save money. Unlocked phones are generally less expensive than brand new devices. You may pay more up-front, but you will be able to save money in the long run on a voice and data plan.
  • You get a quality device for the price. Certified pre-owned phones are as good as new. A technician has inspected and refurbished them before resale.
  • You protect the environment. Most parts are recyclable. Ask about recycling.
  • You save money on roaming costs. Refurbished or used phones are ideal for international travel.

To increase customer satisfaction, retailers grade refurbished phones according to their condition. Prices may vary, depending on their grades.

  • Grade A: New; has minor signs of wear and tear.
  • Grade B: Good; contains visible scratches, chips, and slight blemishes.
  • Grade C: Fair; shows significant signs of wear and tear.

Where You Can Buy Refurbished Cell Phones

Avoid buying a used phone from an individual. You won’t have any proof of the phone’s reliability or history, and you won’t be able to return it if you change your mind. You want to make sure the phone works.
You can find unlocked or refurbished phones in stores and online. You will discover selections of brands and styles to meet your needs. Most retailers offer discounts.

Apple and Samsung

Apple and Samsung sell refurbished phones. Both online shopping platforms offer a full-year warranty on their certified phones. A trained technician inspects each phone for damage and refurbishes it before resale.

Amazon and eBay

Explore your options on Amazon and eBay. They often have good deals. While looking for a phone, buy from a “registered business seller”. The registered business seller offers protection for your product. Amazon offers a 90-day warranty.

Best Buy

You will find discounts and 90-day guarantees on certified refurbished phones. The Geek Squad refurbished those phones before placing them on the market. Best Buy also sells unlocked, unrefurbished phones.


If you want a wide selection of pre-owned phones to choose from, is where to shop. A professional checks every refurbished phone using Gazelle’s 30-point system. You will find discounts of up to 15%.
Swappa is much like Gazelle, only you are buying directly from the phone owner in this case. Swappa protects the buyer by requiring the seller take photos of the phone powered on next to a piece of paper with a custom code Swappa provides. The site also checks phone serial numbers to make sure the device isn’t stolen.

Retail Wireless Stores

Shop at retail cellular stores like Sprint, AT&T, T-Mobile, and others. Customers trade phones in when they buy new ones.
A technician inspects refurbished phones to make sure everything is working well. The phones work like they’re new. You can examine the phone yourself if you shop in the store.

What To Avoid When Buying A Used Or Refurbished Phone

The above outlets should cover people in 99% of buying scenarios. However, other ways of buying a used phone may seem tempting.

Craigslist And Facebook Marketplace
It’s possible a person could have a positive experience buying a phone on these platforms, but they would have to be a very savvy buyer. Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace are fine for buying many things, but the used phone listings are full of scams and difficult situations. It’s better to avoid them entirely and go with a marketplace dedicated to cell phones.

What You Should Consider Before Buying a Used Phone

Before you buy a refurbished cell phone, here are some tips to consider:

  • Make sure the phone will be compatible with any GSM network of your choice. Because the unlocked phone requires a SIM card, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Cricket are a few GSM vendors to use.
  • Request a certified refurbished or pre-owned phone. You will be selecting a phone that has better quality for the money and that works.
  • Ask about a return policy. Make sure you can return your phone if you change your mind.
  • Ensure that a warranty covers the phone you want. Don’t buy if there is no warranty attached to the phone.
  • Read reviews on the phones you’re interested in and see what other consumers say about them. An example of a reliable review site is Trustpilot. Other online sites like Amazon and Best Buy list reviews from previous customers.
  • Have someone check the phone through Alegre for stolen phones. A stolen phone will not work.

With scams becoming a fact of life online, it is easy for someone to trick you into buying a faulty phone. You can buy a quality phone for a reasonable price online or in stores.

Questions To Ask Before You Buy Refurbished Cell Phones

Here are some questions to consider before making your purchase:

Do refurbished phones work as well as new phones?

Yes. A trained professional inspects the refurbished phones and resets them to factory settings. All features work as well as newer phones.

What is a certified pre-owned phone?

A professional checks the phone for damaged parts and deletes previous user information.

When is the best time to buy a used or refurbished phone?

In January, right after the holidays, when shoppers trade in their phones for newer models.

What do warranties cover on a refurbished or used phone?

Warranties cover defects from the manufacturer or damaged hardware on the device.